In September 2011, PHR conducted an investigation in Burma’s Kachin State in response to reports of grave human rights violations in the region. PHR found that between June and September 2011, the Burmese army looted food from civilians, fired indiscriminately into villages, threatened villages with attacks, and used civilians as porters and human minesweepers.
PHR mourns the untimely loss of Dr. Paul Epstein, one of our pioneering medical activists, former board and executive committee member. Paul joined PHR's board in 1987 soon after the organization's launch, and participated in several landmark assessments.
PHR commends Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano’s decision to create an exemption to the “material support” bar for health professionals who have provided medical assistance to wounded combatants. The decision is a major victory for health professionals who were forced to provide health care to alleged terrorists during armed conflict. Previously, medical professionals forced to provide care to members of terrorist organizations, some under the threat of torture or death, were denied asylum in the US.
PHR strongly supports New York bill A.6665 (Gottfried) and S.4495 (Duane), “An Act to amend the public health law, the education law and the labor law, in relation to prohibiting participation in torture and improper treatment of prisoners by health care professionals,” which will bar all health care professionals from participating in the torture or improper treatment and interrogation of prisoners, requires health care providers to report torture or improper treatment of prisoners to responsible authorities, and provides whistleblower protections for health care professionals who refuse to undertake prohibited acts and those who participate in investigations of lawbreaking.
PHR strongly supports Massachusetts bill H.3361 (Lewis) and S.1090 (Eldridge), “An Act to Prohibit the Participation of Health Care Professionals in the Torture and Abusive Treatment of Prisoners,” which will subject to professional sanctions any Massachusetts-licensed health care professionals who participate in the torture or abusive treatment and interrogation of prisoners. It will also require health care professionals to report instances of torture or abusive treatment of prisoners, and provide protection for those professionals who refuse to participate in prohibited acts or who investigate them.